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UB Doctoral Student to Attend Nobel Laureates Meeting

By Donna Longenecker

Release Date: June 7, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Derrick Helfer, a doctoral student in inorganic chemistry, will become the first University at Buffalo student to attend the annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany, when he attends the 52nd convening of the group early next month.

A resident of Baltimore, Md., Helfer received the Student Award from the American Institute of Chemists Foundation in recognition of the quality of work he achieved in chemistry as an undergraduate at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry summa cum laude from Thiel in 2000.

Since 1951 top young researchers from around the world have gathered in Lindau to engage in open and informal meetings with Nobel Laureates in the areas of chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine. The meetings rotate by discipline each year. The 2002 event will focus on chemistry with this year's laureates lecturing on chemistry-related topics of their choice. Lectures will take place in the morning and laureates and students will engage in open and informal discussions with students in the afternoons.

"It will be a humbling experience to meet some of the most distinguished scientists in the world, most of whom I have only read about," says Helfer.

"It will be a very educational experience because I will learn what it took to get to the level that these scientists are at. It will also be beneficial to meet other graduate students from around the U.S. and from around the world," he adds.

In addition to the award from the American Institute of Chemists Foundation, Helfer in 1999 received the Analytical Chemistry Award from Analytical Chemistry magazine, in recognition of his academic performance as an undergraduate. He won several scholarships and was on the dean's list all four semesters at Thiel and on the President's Athletic Conference Honor Roll from 1996-2000.

At UB, Helfer is doing research on designing water-soluble platinum compounds that could catalyze the hydration of an alkene to a primary alcohol. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds his research.

Jim Atwood and David Cadenhead, both UB professors of chemistry, nominated Helfer for the award.

"Derrick Helfer is an exceptional graduate student who has already had a paper published and has a second manuscript in preparation," says Atwood.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is coordinating the participation of students in the Lindau program for Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the DOE.